Hayden Phillips, who stated he is proud to be referred to as a "conservative tea party member," is ironically often the swing vote for Democrats. But during Durkin's confirmation hearing the day before, he supported Durkin.
"Ryan's a lawyer. He has solid work experience. Did a Google search. No felonies. No misdemeanors. No moral lapses. And the Executive feels like he could work with Ryan. That's good enough for me."But Durkin, though an experienced collections lawyer, has no real experience in dealing with county law, which troubled Council member Bob Werner. Several former Solicitors, including Jack Panella and Bill Moran, went on to become distinguished judges, But Durkin is a nonresident who does not even belong to the Northampton County Bar Association. This bothered Council members Ken Kraft and Scott Parsons.
Durkin defended his status as a collections lawyer. "To the extent debt collector has been thrown around, I don't think that's a bad word. They provide a service that's necessary to keep the County running."
Speaking on behalf of Durkin was Attorney Bob Daday, who is employed by Portnoff law firm. That firm has come under attack for the fees it charges to property owners when it files liens on behalf of municipalities. That law firm is responsible for numerous of the Sheriff's Sales conducted in Northampton County. Yet Durkin referred to this privatized tax collector as "humane in the way that they collect."
Lamont McClure provided Durkin with a copy of the Home Rule Charter and asked him whether he'd agree that County Council has no power to borrow money to balance a budget or pay operating expenses. Durkin. He stated he'd have to study the matter."This is the first time I'm seeing this," he explained. The day before, he told Council he had read the Home Rule Charter.
McClure also had a few questions about the Administrative Code, to which Durkin declined to answer, explaining he would not want to respond "off the cuff, standing here at the dais."
"That's fair enough,"countered McClure. "I don't think anyone argues that you have any particular experience with our Home Rule Charter or Administrative Code, and I think that's being demonstrated."
When McClure had finished, Phillips complimented Durkin on avoiding the "bear traps" set by McClure. He added that he felt he needed to give great deference to the Executive's choice. "It's on his shoulders. He's picking the man he wants to work with."
"Exactly," concurred Peg Ferraro, who has only voted once against an Executive's cabinet pick.
Durkin stated he planned on making no changes inside the Solicitor's office.
John Brown told Council he had spoken to a dozen Northampton County lawyers. He feels that Durkin fits best with his team approach. Acknowledging that Durkin lives outside the County he told Council he did make a concession. "He is in the state of Pennsylvania," he joked.